In the last 20 or so years there has been a proliferation in car size we had never seen before. In their bones and in their muscles, cars have gotten fatter, always trying to be injected with new features that we neglect we need, but miss when they are taken away from us. It’s the path that the industry must go in order to meet the ever demanding law and the even more demanding mother nature. Although it is certainly an achievement that it’s now harder to die in a car crash than to survive we miss the time when cars felt as if you wore them, not as if you were confined inside them like an inmate hoping to catch any glimpse of UV rays through the foot wide A pilar.
Getting into a new car and feeling “just right” is now harder than ever. Things must be adjusted so the driver feels remotely under control, or has the minimum sense of security behind the wheel. Instead of it being like taking a dump in your own household it’s as if you had to do it in a portable restroom in the middle of the Holocaust museum. Whilst being timed. It doesn’t feel all that good.
Just some examples of this bloat can be seen here:
That is a 7 series from the 1990’s, the largest car in its lineup next to a compact car from just a few years ago. The smallest sedan in its lineup. The size similarity was extremely surprising.
A GMT400 Tahoe is shorter in length than a Ferrari FF.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee, your average SUV is 40mm shy of the Rolls Royce Phantom when it comes to width.
The Lamborghini Countach is the same distance front to back as a Nissan Micra.
And lets not forget how very segment of car has grown (3 series that’s 5 series sized etc.).
Even if it is startling to see, there is no reason to be angered by this because automakers are solving the issue by themselves. As the models grow and grow, new ones below them appear. They may not be the famous nameplates, but they are the models that keep the essence of their originals intact.
The perfect example of this is the BMW 2 series, that has become the exact successor of the beloved E30. Here are their stats:
2 Series-174.5 Inches
2 Series-69.8 Inches
It’s a glimpse of hope! And better yet, after all those years of making the car more capable overall the official horsepower figures of the base 228i’s engine (Underrated) are just shy of the E30 M3’s numbers. Performance-wise, the 228i has it beaten.
I realize that 0-60 times or braking G’s are not what matter in a good drive, but the sensations you feel in your limbs and gut. The older cars will always have that edge in the “visceral” sensations. But realizing the true successor to the E30 is the current 4 series doesn’t feel right. The 2 series is being named the “Last true Ultimate Driving Machine” from Bavaria, and I could’t agree more.
Its the same story with more mundane cars, such as the Honda CR-V and HR-V. I don’t like either, but the same method of slotting a car underneath the bloated nameplate occurred. A quick comparison of the original CR-V and this states that it is even smaller on the outside, but has similar interior space and better performance.
Moving on with the Audi A3, I discovered that only 3 inches mark the difference in length compared to the first generation B5 A4. The generation of A4 I have seen been called as “Perfectly proportioned”. However you see it, those 2 cars can not be more similar, and it only gets better when comparing powertrains. From the S4’s Biturbo V6 you got 261hp and 295 lb. ft. of torque, and from the S3 sedan you will find a higher 296 hp and an almost matching 280 lb. ft. of torque from its 2.0L four. What about weight? The S3 sedan is lighter by 100 kilos.
More examples? The new Jaguar XE, the small trucklets from GM, the McLaren 570S, Jeep’s Renegade, Audi Q3 and many more are the reason why I don’t care of models bloating or get porkier with time. The same or similar thrills, essence and character of the originals that made the nameplates so famous in the first place with added safety, economy and performance can be found in the newcomers we will be seeing as the years go buy.